April 14, 2015

John Donne

John Donne

17th century English poet, prose writer, and clergyman, considered the greatest of the metaphysical poets and one of the greatest writers of love poetry.


  • Full Name: John Donne
  • Born: c. 1572
  • Place of Birth: Bread Street, London, England
  • Death: March 31, 1631
  • Place of Death: London, England
  • Cause of Death: Stomach Cancer?
  • Buried at: St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Churchyard, City of London, Greater London, England
  • Epitaphs: “He lies here in the dust but beholds Him, whose name is Rising”
  • Father: John Donne
  • Mother: Elizabeth Heywood
  • Siblings: 5
    • Brother: Henry Donne (d. 1593)
    • Sister: Mary Donne (d. 1581)
    • Sister: Katherine Donne (d. 1581)
  • Marriage: 1601
  • Spouse: Anne More (d. 1617)
  • Number of Children: 12
    • Daughter: Constance Donne (b. 1603)
    • Son:  John Donne III (b. 1604, d. 1662)
    • Son: George Donne (b. 1605)
    • Son: Francis Donne (b. 1607 d. 1614)
    • Daughter: Lucy Donne (b. 1608)
    • Daughter: Bridget Donne (b.1609)
    • Daughter: Mary Donne (b. 1611, d. 1614)
    • Stillborn: 1612
    • Son: Nicholas Donne (b. 1613, d. 1614)
    • Daughter: Margaret Donne (b. 1615)
    • Daughter: Elizabeth Donne (b. 1616)
    • Stillborn: 1617
  • Education: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Lincoln’s Inn
  • Known for: for both his sensitive and realistic portrayals of romantic love and his remarkable expressions of religious devotion
  • Criticised for: NA
  • Influences: NA
  • Influenced: Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Merton


''But I do nothing upon myself, and yet am mine own executioner.''  John Donne

Major Themes:

  • Love
  • Women
  • Sexuality
  • Religion
  • Death

Notable Works:

  • The Anniversaries (1611-12)
  • Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)
  • Songs and Sonnets (1633)

Did you know?

  • Donne’s father, a prosperous London merchant was also named John.
  • Donne was the third of six children of his parents.
  • His father deceased when Donne was only four years old.
  • During marriage his wife Anne More was only 16 years old.
  • After his father’s demise Donne’s mother married a prominent physician.
  • Donne’s wife Anne spent most of her married life either pregnant or nursing.
  • Anne bore 12 offspring, including two stillbirths.
  • Donne’s wife died after giving birth of the 12th child.
  • In 1593, John Donne’s brother, Henry, was convicted of Catholic sympathies and died of a fever in prison.
  • Critics place Donne, along with the English poets George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and Richard Crashaw, in the metaphysical school of poets.
  • Donne’s greatness as a poet was not acclaimed until the 20th century.
  • T.S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats did much to establish him as a great metaphysical poet.
  • After his wife’s death Donne quit writing love poems and concentrated more on religious subjects.
  • Donne was educated at home by Roman Catholic tutors until he was twelve years old.
  • In 1615 Donne was ordained a priest.
  • Although it is much debated how Donne died, many believed that he suffered from stomach cancer.


“John Donne.” Bio. 2015. A&E Television Networks. 6 April 2015

“John Donne.” Encyclopedia.com. 2015. HighBeam™ Research, Inc. 6 April 2015

 “John Donne Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2015. Advameg, Inc. 6 April 2015

 “John Donne Facts.” YourDictionary. 2015. LoveToKnow, Corp. 6 April 2015

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